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Undernews For May 5, 2008

Undernews For May 5, 2008

Washington's Most Unofficial Source
611 Pennsylvania Ave SE #381
Washington DC 20003
Editor: Sam Smith

5 MAY 2008


I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time" so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance. -- Steven Wright



STEVE CHAPMAN, CHICAGO TRIBUNE Obama has been justly criticized for his ties to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, who in 1995 hosted a campaign event for Obama and in 2001 gave him a $200 contribution. The two have also served together on the board of a foundation. When their connection became known, McCain minced no words: "I think not only a repudiation but an apology for ever having anything to do with an unrepentant terrorist is due the American people."

What McCain didn't mention is that he has his own Bill Ayers-in the form of G. Gordon Liddy. Now a conservative radio talk-show host, Liddy spent more than 4 years in prison for his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary. That was just one element of what Liddy did, and proposed to do, in a secret White House effort to subvert the Constitution. Far from repudiating him, McCain has embraced him.

How close are McCain and Liddy? At least as close as Obama and Ayers appear to be. In 1998, Liddy's home was the site of a McCain fundraiser. Over the years, he has made at least four contributions totaling $5,000 to the senator's campaigns-including $1,000 this year.

Last November, McCain went on his radio show. Liddy greeted him as "an old friend," and McCain sounded like one. "I'm proud of you, I'm proud of your family," he gushed. "It's always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great."

Which principles would those be? The ones that told Liddy it was fine to break into the office of the Democratic National Committee to plant bugs and photograph documents? The ones that made him propose to kidnap anti-war activists so they couldn't disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention? The ones that inspired him to plan the murder (never carried out) of an unfriendly newspaper columnist?

Liddy was in the thick of the biggest political scandal in American history-and one of the greatest threats to the rule of law. He has said he has no regrets about what he did, insisting that he went to jail as "a prisoner of war."

All this may sound like ancient history. But it's from the same era as the bombings Ayers helped carry out as a member of the Weather Underground. And Liddy's penchant for extreme solutions has not abated. .

Given Liddy's record, it's hard to see why McCain would touch him with a 10-foot pole. On the contrary, he should be returning his donations and shunning his show. Yet the senator shows no qualms about associating with Liddy-or celebrating his service to their common cause.

How does McCain explain his howling hypocrisy on the subject? He doesn't. I made repeated inquiries to his campaign aides, which they refused to acknowledge, much less answer. On this topic, the pilot of the Straight Talk Express would rather stay parked in the garage.


KLBJ, TX A Texas Supreme Court decision in favor of the state's most prolific campaign contributor has renewed questions about big money's influence on elected judges. The Austin court sided yesterday with Houston homebuilder Bob Perry in a dispute over a defective house, overturning an 800-thousand-dollar arbitration award.

The nine judges on the all-Republican panel each have received contributions totaling more than $260,000 from members of Perry's family. But Anthony Holm, a spokesman for Perry, denies political contributions played any part and questions the couple's motives in going to arbitration.


DELAWARE BUSINESS LEDGER The first high school dedicated to preparing students for the front lines in the Nation's homeland security has gone from theory to planning in Wilmington.

The Project Manager for the Delaware Academy for Public Safety and Security, New Castle Attorney Thomas Little, signed a contract with Innovative Schools, a professional firm which will coordinate the mechanics of preparing the school for its eventual opening.

The process to find and fund a site for as many as six-hundred young men and women in Wilmington's inner city is underway.

Curriculum choices for students, who are to be called Cadets, range from SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) through prison guard, water rescue, paramedic, fireman, professional demolition and emergency response operator, according to a Board statement.

The first Principal of the institution is to be Dr. Fred Fitzgerald. A retired Captain in the Marine Corps, Fitzgerald teaches English, speech and debate at New Castle Christian Academy. Fitzgerald is also a former executive for Coca Cola in Jacksonville, Florida, and a former Director of Operations for the Port of Wilmington.

On the academic side of the new charter school, parents will agree to attend a monthly meeting at the campus with faculty for progress conferences.


SCIENTIFIC BLOGGING Marine scientists led by Dr. Lothar Stramma from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany say they have made an alarming new discovery - in some regions of the world oceans, oxygen essential for marine organisms is declining. The new study documents that the oxygen values in tropical oceans at a depth of 300 to 700 meters have declined during the past 50 years. As large marine organisms can either no longer exist in these areas or they would avoid them, the expanding oxygen minimum zones may have substantial biological and economical consequences. . .

"We found the largest reduction in a depth of 300-700 m in the tropical northeast Atlantic, whereas the changes in the eastern Indian Ocean were much less pronounced", explains Dr. Stramma. "Whether or not these observed changes in oxygen can be attributed to global warming alone is still unresolved", Stramma continues. The reduction in oxygen may also be caused by natural processes on shorter time scales" Nevertheless, the results are consistent with model results which predict a further decline in the future.


NUVO - Russell Baughman, 61, has fought in three conflicts as a part of the United States Army. He was on the front lines in Vietnam in March of 1967 during a battle that has since become known as "the bloodiest week." He was sent to Panama shortly after the 1989 U.S. invasion as part of a security maintenance force. And he spent six months in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the Gulf War in the early '90s.

His military discharge papers feature a paragraph's worth of honors and awards, like the national defense service medal, the Vietnam service medal with two bronze service stars, the combat/infantry badge and a purple heart for being wounded during combat.
So when Baughman arrived at his polling place at precinct 52 in Lawrence [IN] March 11 for the special election, he wasn't expecting to have a problem voting in the country he had defended.

But since Indiana passed its new Voter ID law, which requires every voter to have a valid, government-issued photo ID, Baughman's identification was no longer good enough.

He had with him his expired driver's license (he rides a bicycle), his Department of Veterans Affairs card (featuring his purple heart endorsement) and, of all things, his voter's registration card.

But Baughman was told that neither of his photo IDs were valid. His driver's license didn't count because it was expired and his Veterans Affairs card didn't count because it didn't feature any expiration date at all.

"I've been on the voting rolls since 1968," Baughman said, "and all of a sudden they expect my identity to change. There was no change."


More evidence that the prejudice shown against large people is just that: prejudice

NEW SCIENTIST A team of Swedish researchers has found that humans determine their total number of fat cells in childhood. New cells spring up and old ones perish, but their numbers change little after adolescence. By measuring radiation absorbed after nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and 60s, researchers found that our fat cells quickly regenerate.

But obese people turn over far more fat cells than others, says Kirsty Spalding, a biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The difference could explain why people battle to keep weight off after a diet.

"The take-home message is be careful what you feed your child," Spalding says. "Do everything you can to make sure you don't blow out your fat cell number when you are young." . . .

We recycle about 10% of our fat cells each year, and every 8 years, half our adipocytes have been replaced.
But Spaulding did find that young obese people add twice as many fat cells each year as others, on average. "This could be part of the reason it's so hard to keep weight off," Spaulding says.

After plugging those numbers into a mathematical model, her team found that obese people start building up their fat cells much faster and at a younger age – about two years old – than thin people.


AP - Luxury hotels, a shopping center and even condos in the heart of Baghdad. That's all part of a five-year development "dream list" - or what some dub an improbable fantasy - to transform the U.S.-protected Green Zone from a walled fortress into a centerpiece for Baghdad's future. But the $5 billion plan has the backing of the Pentagon and apparently the interest of some deep pockets in the world of international hotels and development, the lead military liaison for the project told The Associated Press.

For Washington, the driving motivation is to create a "zone of influence" around the new $700 million U.S. Embassy to serve as a kind of high-end buffer for the compound, whose total price tag will reach about $1 billion after all the workers and offices are relocated over the next year. . .

One diplomat, who asked not to be named because of no authorization to speak to the media, said they did not think Iraqis would want Washington to "turn this area into downtown Kansas City."


LAMIA OUALALOU LE FIGARO Choosing to confront the rise in power of left-leaning governments in its backyard, the United States is recreating the Fourth Fleet. It's now official: The Pentagon is going to resuscitate its Fourth Fleet, with the mission of patrolling Latin American and Caribbean waters. Created during the Second World War to protect traffic in the South Atlantic, the structure was dissolved in 1950. "By reestablishing the Fourth Fleet, we acknowledge the immense importance of maritime security in this region," declared Adm. Gary Roughead, head of the Pentagon's naval operations. . .

According to Alejandro Sanchez, an analyst at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a research center on Latin America based in Washington, "the reestablishment of the Fourth Fleet is more of a political than a military gesture, designed to confront the rise in power of left-leaning governments in the region." The Pentagon does not trouble to camouflage its intentions: "the message is clear: whether local governments like it or not, the United States is back after the war in Iraq," Sanchez explains.

Washington's military influence in the region has diminished considerably since September 11, 2001, and the launch of the "war against terrorism." Concentrated on the Middle Eastern arc of crisis, the Pentagon did not pay much attention to the political upsets in its own backyard. Leftist governments, now broadly in the majority in Latin America, reproach the United States with the support it gave the dictatorships that reigned over several decades and to the ultra-neo- liberal policies those dictatorships applied.

While Washington assures that its sole interest in the region is combating "new threats" (terrorism, drug trafficking and the Maras gangs of Central America), Latin American people often see it as the pursuit of "imperialist" interests dictated by energy needs. The tensions between Washington and the radical presidents of the sub-continent's main oil and gas producers (Venezuela, Equator and Bolivia) accentuate that perception.

As a sign of defiance, almost all Latin American countries have refused to sign the American Serviceman Protection Act, a treaty that prevents legal pursuit of American soldiers for crimes committed abroad.

The plan to install a military base in Paraguay, close to Bolivian gas fields, was denounced by Brazil and Argentina. Ecuador has made it known that the American military base installed in Manta until 2009 will not be allowed to renew its mandate. Worse still, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has relaunched the idea of a South American Defense Council, explicitly excluding all United States intervention.


Thanks to alternative media coverage - including that of the Progressive Review - there has been a slight increase in corporate press coverage of John McCain's ties to extremist Christian evangelist John Hagee. But even conventional liberals like Bill Moyers and EJ Dionne, while finally citing the McCain-Hagee connection, still refuse to delve into Hillary Clinton's ties to The Fellowship, a secret rightwing religious group involving a number of Washington big names like herself.

The story has been well documented by such publications as Harper's, the Los Angeles Times and Mother Jones. And it's not a new tale, but it's one the Washington media runs away from, in part because it might wreck the journalists' comfortably servile relationship with some of their sources - with the Clintons near the top of the list.

It's Washington journalism at its worst, the sort of politician-pet relationship that led the media to so badly mislead the public about the Iraq war and, for that matter, many other crucial facts about the Clintons. To this day, for example, the media is tough on Barack Obama's Tony Resko relationship but doesn't mention Hillary Clinton's much deeper relationship with Webster Hubbell.

As we noted about a week ago, the two big exceptions to the media cover up of The Fellowship are
Andrea Mitchell and Jim Popkin of NBC, who reported:

"In his preaching, [Fellowship leader Douglas] Coe repeatedly urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It's a commitment Coe compares to the blind devotion that Adolph Hitler demanded from his followers -- a rhetorical technique that now is drawing sharp criticism.

"'Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had, these nobodies from nowhere," Coe said.

"Later in the sermon, Coe said: "Jesus said, You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself.' Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people."

Coe also quoted Jesus and said: "One of the things [Jesus] said is 'If any man comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can't be a disciple.' So I don't care what other qualifications you have, if you don't do that you can't be a disciple of Christ."

The sermons are little surprise to writer Jeff Sharlet. He lived among Coe's followers six years ago, and came out troubled by their secrecy and rhetoric.

"'We were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao. And I would say, 'Isn't there a problem with that?' And they seemed perplexed by the question. Hitler's genocide wasn't really an issue for them. It was the strength that he emulated," said Sharlet. . . 'They're notoriously secretive,' Sharlet said. 'In fact, they jokingly call themselves the Christian Mafia. Which becomes less of a joke when you realize that they really are dedicated to being what they call an invisible organization.'"

SOURCE WATCH The Fellowship, headquartered in Washington D.C., is a humanitarian religious-right Christian organization about which very little is known. Their signature event is the annual National Prayer Breakfast but that is only a small part of their activities. They are heavily involved in the political culture of Washington, counting at least a dozen Senators and Congressman as known members. The group has also gone by the names Family, Foundation, C Street Center, and International Christian Leadership. An article published in the March 2003 issue of Harper's entitled "Jesus Plus Nothing" by Jeffrey Sharlet provides an excellent exposition; however, Sharlet infiltrated only at the lowest level and so his article is woefully short of details concerning the organization, its mission, or who runs it.

In a June 12, 2003, followup interview by Anthony Lappé for Guerrilla News Network, Jeffrey Sharlet declares that the group's goal and aspiration are "an 'invisible' world organization led by Christ"; and that in his view, their "core issue is capitalism and power."

In 1972, The Fellowship was reorganized to be even more clandestine, shedding the overhead of a typical high-profile nonprofit so that it was essentially little more than a holding company disbursing cash to dozens of ministries beneath it. By 1985, The Fellowship had 150 individual ministries beneath it. This model continues to this day with countless ministries coming into and going out of existence depending upon the current needs of the organization and the initiatives it wishes to fund. As Sharlet writes in his Harper's piece, The Foundation believes that its mobile "cell" structure, which it likens to those organized by Lenin, Bin Laden, and Hitler, makes it far more efficient than a hierarchical organization. And just like Enron's many shell corporations, their cell structure has the additional advantage of being able to move money around very quickly and in a way that makes it difficult to track or audit. . .

Those in the Fellowship who are asked about their role either deny its existence or politely refuse to answer questions about it. All have taken a vow of silence not to speak about The Fellowship.


Bill Clinton in New Hampshire: "Folks, it's always a mistake to bet against America. It was tough in 1968, and we came back. It was tough in 1992 and we wound up with the eight best years we've had in modern history."

That is if you don't count the following, all of which got worse

1920s like decline in the over the counter stock market
Minimum wage as % of average wage
Real income
Real manufacturing wages
Income gap between rich and poor
Bottom 40% decline in wealth
Foreign debt as a percent of GDP
Workers covered by defined benefit pensions
Personal bankruptcies
Housing foreclosures
Poverty rate
U.S. auto industry relative to foreign car makers
Number of persons in prisons
Drug induced deaths despite drug war
Civil liberties lost as result of drug war
Increase in black work hours for same pay
Black families net worth
Health care benefit with pension
Number of families without health insurance
% of corporations with employee health benefits
Premature & low birthrate babies
Childhood obesity
Health expenditures as percent of GDP
Decline in public hospitals
Number of corporations controlling most media
Births to unwed mothers
Student loan debt
Per capita new spending on prisons vs. schools
High school completion rate
College completion rate
Democratic margins in House
Voters who describe themselves as Democrats
Decline in voting participation
Decline in 18-24 voting participation
What farmers got for their products
Wages of recent male high school grad
Wages of bottom ten percent of workers
Total hours worked per family
% of workers with defined benefits pension plan
Solid waste per American per day



NY TIMES - The economic slowdown has swelled the ranks of people without health insurance. But now it is also threatening millions of people who have insurance but find that the coverage is too limited or that they cannot afford their own share of medical costs. . .

Many of the 158 million people covered by employer health insurance are struggling to meet medical expenses that are much higher than they used to be - often because of some combination of higher premiums, less extensive coverage, and bigger out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments.

With medical costs soaring, the coverage many people have may not adequately protect them from the financial shock of an emergency room visit or a major surgery. For some, even routine doctor visits might now take a back seat to basic expenses like food and gasoline. . .

Already, many doctors say, the soft economy is making some insured people hesitant to get care they need, reluctant to spend a $50 co-payment for an office visit. Parents "are waiting longer to bring in their children," said Dr. Richard Lander, a pediatrician in Livingston, N.J. "They say, ‘The kid isn't that sick; her temperature is only 102.'". . .

Since the recession of 2001, the employee's average cost of an annual health care premium for family coverage has nearly doubled - to $3,300, up from $1,800 - while incomes have come nowhere close to keeping up. Factor in other out-of-pocket medical costs, and the portion of the average American household's income that goes toward health care has risen about 12 percent, according to the consulting and accounting firm Deloitte, and is now approaching one-fifth of the average household's spending.

In a recent survey by Deloitte's health research center, only 7 percent of people said they felt financially prepared for their future health care needs. . .

More companies may see themselves as having little choice but to require employees to pay even more of their health expenses, said Ted Nussbaum, a benefits consultant at the firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide. And when a weak economy undermines job security, he said, workers may simply have to accept reduced benefits. . .

PHILLIPE SANDS, VANITY FAIR The minimum rights of detainees guaranteed by Geneva and the torture convention can never be overridden by claims of security or other military necessity. That is their whole purpose. Mohammed al-Qahtani is among the first six detainees scheduled to go on trial for complicity in the 9/11 attacks; the Bush administration has announced that it will seek the death penalty. Last month, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have outlawed the use by the C.I.A. of the techniques set out in the Haynes Memo and used on al-Qahtani. Whatever he may have done, Mohammed al-Qahtani was entitled to the protections afforded by international law, including Geneva and the torture convention. His interrogation violated those conventions. There can be no doubt that he was treated cruelly and degraded, that the standards of Common Article 3 were violated, and that his treatment amounts to a war crime. If he suffered the degree of severe mental distress prohibited by the torture convention, then his treatment crosses the line into outright torture. These acts resulted from a policy decision made right at the top, not simply from ground-level requests in Guantánamo, and they were supported by legal advice from the president's own circle.

Those responsible for the interrogation of Detainee 063 face a real risk of investigation if they set foot outside the United States. Article 4 of the torture convention criminalizes "complicity" or "participation" in torture, and the same principle governs violations of Common Article 3.

It would be wrong to consider the prospect of legal jeopardy unlikely. I remember sitting in the House of Lords during the landmark Pinochet case, back in 1999-in which a prosecutor was seeking the extradition to Spain of the former Chilean head of state for torture and other international crimes-and being told by one of his key advisers that they had never expected the torture convention to lead to the former president of Chile's loss of legal immunity. In my efforts to get to the heart of this story, and its possible consequences, I visited a judge and a prosecutor in a major European city, and guided them through all the materials pertaining to the Guantánamo case. The judge and prosecutor were particularly struck by the immunity from prosecution provided by the Military Commissions Act. "That is very stupid," said the prosecutor, explaining that it would make it much easier for investigators outside the United States to argue that possible war crimes would never be addressed by the justice system in the home country-one of the trip wires enabling foreign courts to intervene. For some of those involved in the Guantánamo decisions, prudence may well dictate a more cautious approach to international travel. And for some the future may hold a tap on the shoulder.

"It's a matter of time," the judge observed. "These things take time." As I gathered my papers, he looked up and said, "And then something unexpected happens, when one of these lawyers travels to the wrong place."

DAVE LINDORFF, BUZZFLASH Back in late 2006, it was widely reported in the Latin American media that President Bush, or perhaps his old man, had bought a 100,000-acre farm in a remote area of Paraguay. What struck people at the time was the choice of country. Paraguay, of course, has gained a certain Club Med status among the world's villains and criminal elements as the place to go when the law's on your tail. The country, ruled for six decades by the dictatorial and fascist Colorado Party of Gen. Alfredo Stroesser, an almost cartoon caricature of a Latin American dictator, has no extradition treaty with any nation. That's why it has long harbored aging Nazis, bank robbers, and a string of ousted or retired Latin American dictators and their assistants over the years.

Given that President Bush, once he leaves office on January 20, 2009, will no longer have the diplomatic immunity conferred upon heads of state, or the Constitutional protection against indictment by domestic prosecutors, it makes sense that he would be looking for a safe haven from the long arm of the law.

After all, the guy is guilty of a huge laundry list of international crimes, from the Crime Against Peace and Conspiracy against Peace in the UN Charter, to Geneva Convention violations such as approval of torture of prisoners, collective punishment of civilians, the killing of children and child soldiers, the failure to protect occupied citizens, the use of banned weapons, etc., etc., and also of domestic crimes, ranging from political use of government employees, conspiracy, treason, lying to federal officials, defrauding Congress, etc. . .

Only trouble is, Paraguay may not be such a safe haven for long.

Last month, a former Roman Catholic Bishop with leftist, populist tendencies, Fernando Lugo, surprised almost everyone in Paraguay, and no doubt President Bush, by winning the national presidential election, ousting the Colorado Party for the first time in 61 years. There is talk that among other things, Lugo is thinking of returning Paraguay to the community of nations, by signing some of those extradition agreements.

If he does that, Bush may be stuck having to hide behind his rump squad of Secret Service agents down at the Crawford Ranch, hoping they can keep the process servers from Brattleboro and Marlboro, VT, with their war crimes arrest warrants, at bay.


WESH, FL The building manager, who did not want to show his face, talked with [Jeanne] Palfrey Monday before she left for her mother's in Tarpon Springs. He strongly believes Palfrey's death was not a suicide.

"Jean Palfrey was a class act. She wore very good clothes. She was well educated. Her way out of this world certainly would not have been in an aluminum shed attached to a mobile home in Tarpon Springs, Florida," he said.

Palfrey was convicted of running a high-profile escort service for Washington's elite and faced a sentencing this summer that would likely lead to many years in prison. But she was found hanged Thursday at her mother's home and investigators said they have no doubt it was a suicide.

"A couple handwritten notes. At least one note was found inside residence indicating her intent to take her life," Capt. Jeffrey Young of the Tarpon Springs Police Department said of Palfrey's death.

Palfrey's building manager said she often told him she believed she was being followed and he thinks there may have been some former clients of her escort service who wanted her dead.

"She insinuated that there is a contract out for her and I fully believe they succeeded," her building manager said.

Palfrey's Lexus is still parked in the Park Lake garage and the staff said on Monday, she asked about making sure her condo fees would continue to be paid during what Palfrey anticipated would be six years in prison.

They said she left that day with some suitcases and a box.

"She had one white paper file box that she told me had some important paper with her and then she just kind of raised her eyebrows like you're supposed to think oh yeah, that's all the information that she had on her business in Washington," her building manager said.


Nostalgic moments from the Clinton years

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW 1999 - As a White House appointee, AIDS czar Sandy Thurman has reconciled the president's sex scandal with her job to preach safe sex. She insists lives are being saved as a result of Clinton's behavior. "It has forced us to open the door to conversations with our children about sexuality and responsible behavior. Children are driving the dialogue. They're asking questions we have to answer."



Vincent Bugliosi

BUZZFLASH In 'The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder,' Bugliosi presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers [it is now more than 4000 GIs killed in Iraq] fighting the war in Iraq. Bugliosi sets forth the legal architecture and incontrovertible evidence that President Bush took this nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses . . Bugliosi came to fame as the LA District Attorney who prosecuted Charles Manson and wrote "Helter Skelter."

An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870

LUTHER SPOERHR, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK In 1867, shortly after the Civil War, the baseball players of the National Club of Washington, D.C., did what award-winning baseball historian Peter Morris calls "the previously unthinkable": they embarked on a 3,000-mile road trip to Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Chicago, thus "becoming the first Eastern team to venture west of the Alleghenies.". . .

Their trip was underwritten by private sponsors, and the Nationals were treated as honored guests at every stop, but they were hardly pampered, particularly when it came to their travel regimen. (After missing their train in Cincinnati, they hopped a freight to Philadelphia and arrived for their game, tired and disheveled, with an hour to spare.) But the Nationals saw themselves primarily as goodwill ambassadors, and, says Morris, their "historic tour was a great boon to the spread of enthusiasm for the game."

By 1867 that game was on the verge of a great change. The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first openly professional "base ball" team, would go on tour and beat all comers; their success would lead the Cincinnati Base Ball Club to "divorce" them. In 1871 the National Association of Base Ball Players split into amateur and professional groups.

How the game unexpectedly got to that point is the subject of Morris' thoroughly researched, entirely engaging book. He begins with the game of the 1830s and 1840s, in all its variety, informality, and sociability, when the pitcher's only job was to get play started by letting the batter hit the ball, and the umpire sat in splendid isolation, called upon only occasionally ("Judgment, sir!"), when players themselves couldn't make the call. . .



The ACLU of Colorado has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Secret Service and the city of Denver to ensure that protesters are within "sight and sound" of delegates attending the Democratic National Convention this August. "Ultimately, it's the federal courts that are sort of the last resort protectors of constitutional rights," Mark Silverstein, the ACLU's legal director, said . . . Silverstein said the city is dragging its feet on processing applications for parade and park permits, affecting protesters' planning efforts, and that it has yet to reveal where the so-called free speech zone will be located. The city says it's waiting for the Secret Service to determine the boundaries of a security perimeter, and the Secret Service says that decision may not happen until July, he said. - Rocky Mountain News

The current drinking age limits are unconstitutional as 18-20 year olds are full citizens entitled to the same rights as other citizens. According to the Suburban Chicago News, "Wisconsin is one of many states that are considering lowering their drinking age from 21 to 19, considering that people 18 and older are eligible for military service. Missouri and Minnesota may lower the bar to 18."


Nicole C. Wong, Boston Globe For America's already beleaguered air travelers, there's something new on the runway. The airlines call it unbundling. . . A window seat? That will be $5 more. Extra leg room? $10. A number that will connect you more quickly to a reservations agent when your flight is delayed or canceled? That will be $25, and thank you very much. US Airways, JetBlue Airways Corp., and Air Canada recently introduced such charges as part of an accelerating industry trend that is transforming the world of air fares from all-inclusive to a la carte. Just about everything travelers once took for granted, right down to the pillow behind your head, may soon carry a price tag.


Cyclists in Riverside, California will soon be able to enjoy greater peace of mind when locking their bikes around town, thanks to the installation of 12 BikeLid systems at the Riverside and Corona Metrolink stations. The somewhat odd-looking BikeLids are certainly not as attractive as other systems we've seen, such as the Cyclepod, the Slim, or the bike tree, but they are made from a polyethylene shell that is reinforced with steel and is "attached by a spring-loaded hinge to a steel bike guide/frame. The Bikelid bolts to any ground surface, from earth to concrete." What's more, the company claims that the basic unit "is made from up to 90% industrial plastic waste materials (when supplies are available) and recycled steel." The unit is 100% recyclable. Oh, and a bicycle has yet to be stolen from beneath a Bikelid.




As part of its plan to expand online "information operations," the Pentagon is launching "a global network of foreign-language news websites . . and hiring local journalists to write current events stories and other content that promote U.S. interests," reports Peter Eisler. . The goal of the Pentagon's "Trans Regional Web Initiative" is to launch "a minimum of six" websites run by regional U.S. military commands. Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers said, "Our adversaries use the Internet to great advantage," so the Pentagon must counter their messages with "truthful information, and these websites are a good vehicle." Harvard University's Marvin Kalb called the websites "deliberate deception" that "weakens the image of journalism as an objective bystander." - PR Watch, USA Today


A corruption investigation by Israeli police is overshadowing a planned meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister. . . An aide to Abbas said Olmert will not be able to focus on the talks in Jerusalem and an unnamed official in the prime minister's office was quoted as saying "their head isn't into it right now." Israeli army radio also said that the police findings "will shock the country". Israeli police questioned Olmert on Friday, the fifth criminal investigation they have opened into Olmert's activities since he took office in 2006. . . Media have been prohibited from reporting the details of the new case, which is subject to a court-issued gagging order, but the investigation has already led to calls for Olmert to suspend himself or resign. - Al Jazeera


The U.S. breast-feeding rate has hit it's highest mark in at least 20 years with more than three-quarters of new moms nursing their infants, according to a government report . . . About 77 percent of new mothers breast-feed, at least briefly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. . . Experts attributed the rise to education campaigns that emphasize that breast milk is better than formula at protecting babies against disease and childhood obesity. A changing culture that accommodates nursing mothers may also be a factor. The percentage of black infants who were ever breast-fed rose most dramatically, to 65 percent. Only 36 percent were ever breast-fed in 1993-1994, the new study found. For whites, the figure rose to 79 percent, from 62 percent. For Mexican-Americans, it increased to 80 percent, from 67 percent. Seattle Times

A man who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C has died. Timothy Garon, 56, died Thursday at Bailey-Boushay House, an intensive care nursing center. . . His death came a week after his doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list because of his use of marijuana, although it was authorized under Washington state law. - AP


Julia Silverman, AP, Portland Or - Tony Marino, a Republican newcomer who is trying to capture a legislative seat in Tigard. . . introduced himself to voters via a letter to constituents that outlines the mea culpas of his life, including bankruptcy and a run-in with the IRS, five divorces and a PhD from an online university that's not accredited in Oregon. Oh yeah, and his first mailer features Marino and his young daughter on a Harley, neither of them wearing a helmet. (Though a notation underneath notes that the photo was taken in a studio, and that "all smart motorcyclists wear helmets." Oregon law requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets.) Marino's campaign slogan is "Politics Unusual."

But how could not vote for the guy after you've seen his video?

Conservative columnist Mark Steyn gets uncomfortably close to the problem with Obama: "The notion that the Amazing Obama might be just another politician doing what politicians do seems to have affronted the senator more than any of the stuff about America being no different from al-Qaida and the government inventing AIDS to kill black people. In his belated 'disowning' of Wright, Obama said, 'What I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that ¬ that I am about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the ¬ the commonality in all people.'. . . As he chugged on, the senator couldn't find his groove and couldn't prevent himself from returning to pick at the same old bone: 'If what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally, and then he questions whether or not you believe it in front of the National Press Club, then that's enough. That's ¬ that's a show of disrespect to me.' And we can't have that, can we? In a shrewd analysis of Obama's peculiarly petty objections to the Rev. Wright, Scott Johnson of the Powerline Web site remarked on the senator's 'adolescent grandiosity.' There's always been a whiff of that. When he tells his doting fans, 'We are the change we've been waiting for,' he means, of course, he is the change we've been waiting for."


NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most interesting to publish here.

Franklins' dictum. I have for the past half century been offering my own paradox re power seekers. To wit:
Those people who gravitate toward the centers of power in any given society are precisely those people to whom power should never be given. - Richard L. Franklin, Franklin's Focus


- Indeed, it's happening again

- Well we have pseudo-progressives weighing in with the same BS as always. The problem is that we have a class war in this country no matter how much you want to deny it and it runs along all racial and gender lines. The working class has no use for the upper middle and the upper middle class treats the working class with disdain and condescension. - Chris M

- The article that Sam posted speaks to the unpopularity of democrats in national elections saying that Carter was the last Democrat to win the popular vote outright. Al Gore did the same, but did not assume the presidency due to malfeasance.

- If Gore was so great, why didn't he win by 10 points? Because he had no real answer to the economic problems of 2000, and his climate change policies were going to be a drag on the economy.

- The farmers who are using GM seeds are being scammed. Recent studies make it very clear that GM crops have lower yields than un-modified crops. There is no advantage whatsoever to using Monsanto's Frankenseeds and, as the article demonstrates, there are definite disadvantages.

- Monsanto's terrible practices aside, being able to patent genetic organisms itself is not such a bad decision. I can understand why it's controversial, but I'll give just one example to explain why it's beneficial to not only the patent holders but society in general (sometimes). The majority of insulin that diabetics take to regulate their blood sugar levels is now recombinant. This means that a bacterium was modified genetically to produce insulin. Previously the insulin was obtained from pigs. The insulin supply is now much purer, safer, and reliable than when we depended on obtaining it from pigs. That to me is a benefit. It's up to the courts and our government to prevent feckless harassment of our farmers of this issue. Too often though patent and copyright holders are the only people considered in these cases. - Lars


- The one problem with bidets is that they use potable water and contaminate it with human waste. It's pure madness to poop in potable water. We are facing a future of diminishing potable water sources, increasing the use of water in ways that contaminates it and sends it directly to the sewer isn't a good use of water resources. What is needed is composting toilets and bidets. Then the water usage of the bidet would be defrayed using water as a "dumping ground". One doesn't even need a bidet, which in many older American homes would require a very costly remodel to accommodate; one can use a spouted cup and rinse off after using the loo when one wants a clean behind. Also squatting over the toilet when defecating makes the process less messy on the behind. Unfortunately flush toilets aren't constructed to squat over, but many composting toilets are. I have a number of friends who have put humanure systems in their homes. It's cheap and easy, and they all notice big water bill savings.


- The Democrats and Republicans will never legalize or even decriminalize marijuana, because it allows them to disenfranchise poor people and people of color and so helps to keep them in power. Also, the lawyers are making a fortune off of it, and lawyers pretty much control the political system now.


I sent this to the editor of the Guardian article, I doubt they will print it as I think they would prefer to keep their biased stance:

I would like to reply to your article ‘Sustainable' bio-plastic can damage the environment. As a shareholder of Stanelco PLC since 2003 I have continuously researched the subject of bioplastics every week for several years, not only the bioplastics produced by Stanelco PLC's subsidiary Biotec GmbH, but others such as PLA from Natureworks, PHB (Mirrel) from Metabolix, and those from Plantic, Novamont, and many other smaller manufacturers. I find your article worrying in that it misses or confuses some big points:

1) It's very biased and narrow, and thus does not give the reader the real world benefits of bioplastics to balance the article.

2) The big food crop problems you list are nothing to do with bioplastics, they are caused by ethanol and other bio-fuel production, not bioplastics

3) Point 2 is proven by the fact total bioplastics capacity(not production) are only at 500,000 tons per annum, with production of 200,000 tons and growing by 20% per annum. No way is that affecting food crops of many millions of tons. Global wheat production alone is 524m tons per annum; corn is 766m tons per annum.

4) It takes no account of potato starch (Stanelco's primary source of raw material). There has been no growth in this industry outside of China, in other areas it has dropped due to wastage via over-production.

5) You have no life cycle analysis on Bioplastics versus petro-plastics, where Bioplastics win by miles.

6) Some Bioplastics are certified CO2 neutral.

7) Stanelco/Biotec are working out the LCA for bioplast; it will be carbon neutral or carbon negative now, or they will make it so.

8) What recyclers will or will not take is irrelevant, because UK composting is already available in many cities, and it is in the cards for everywhere. Compostable bioplastics are and will be taken by the composting collectors, the facilities are high temperature industrial types where PLA will break down and compost just as Natureworks say it will.

You can't have it both ways, you either use bioplastics and reduce CO2 thus gradually reversing the drop in crop production, or you use petro-plastics and increase CO2 and reduce food crop production further via global warming.

Buyers of bioplastics are aware of the issues of PLA, Stanelco are not selling PLA they are selling potato starch based bioplastics that do compost at home, or blends of potato starch and PLA, utilizing their own(Partner Sphere's) industrial potato crop, which has always been an industrial potato crop grown only for the starch, it was never there as a food crop for at least the last 10 years whilst Avebe owned the starch factory prior to Sphere buying it. - Paul Masterson, owner of the Independent Stanelco Shareholders Website and Forum

- Here are some authentic and meaningful ways of evaluating growth in students:

Performance-based assessments
Portfolios showing growth over time
Anecdotal notes from teachers

But, in order to do these types of things, teachers would have to be given back their professionalism, which NCLB has taken the last of. I have left public school teaching, and pulled my children out of public school. We all are happily spending our days in a progressive, private school that truly nurtures, but most people don't have that option. We have to make this better for our children's children.


When he's hurting you in order to get information from you, you wouldn't say he's punishing you. What is he punishing you for?

Um, for withholding information. Next?


- From what I've been able to gather, there is no force, human or divine that has any authority over Richard Cheney.


- Good for you! As a employee in a Washington state school, I can see how the WASL has put so much negativity in the schools and how it just does not work. I have a child who is beginning school and the WASL is already making me nervous!

- I am a teacher here in primary in New Zealand. We have had debates over the last few decades as to what tests actually capture. The reality is very little other than out dated ideas of "banking" facts. Mr Chew has made a courageous and caring stand and I am deeply impressed. Testing for the sake of testing gives no indication of personal growth or development.

It neither prepares a student for genuine deep learning nor for the future. It does not generate a curious learner, a thinker, or a learner who analyses, evaluates or synthesizes. How is closed testing developing or building the thinkers of our future?

Mr Chew thank you for valuing the learner and not an out dated, historical idea of regurgitated facts equalling education. - Melva Gill

- You want a replacement for your standardized test? How about teaching academic topics? How about tests that measure and teach? Surely you don't believe that teachers are too stupid to put together their own course plans? You want to spoon feed the same pablum to every child in the USA? Seems to me that this standardized testing has not improved our system, and never will. So, take that measurement, and shove it.

- What he did was illegal. He should be fired. There are ways to let one's voice be heard and not following the law and refusing to follow instructions from a supervisor is wrong and sends the wrong message to kids. The majority of his arguments are faulty and merely personal opinion. - Mary Jo Harvey


- Memo for historians: when the US empire collapses, you're going to have to prosecute US Justice Department officials for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity, in addition to the CIA gestapo thugs.


- The United States top military officer said that the Pentagon is planning for "potential military courses of action" as one of several options against Iran, criticizing what he called the Tehran government's "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq. Why should Iran not have influence in Iraq? A large population of Iraq has either Iranian ancestry or is related to someone in Iran. The two nations have historical links spreading over several thousands year.

What are we doing in Iraq? Why are we in Iraq? We have military presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and military bases in several locations in Persian Gulf. Why are we there? These locations are not in our hemisphere.

What are we doing in Persian Gulf the front door to Iran a country 7500 miles from home? Please don't report the same often stated phrase, we are there to protect our national interests. What national interests? "We are there to protect the Persian Gulf", we have said. Are we protecting the region against England or France? Iran has not attacked any country during previous 250 years; she has been attacked, bombed, and threatened during this last 150 years.

The Iranian dilemma has not changed over the last 150 years; still Iran is one step away from being dismembered, colonized and humiliated. Time magazine in an article named Persian Paradox (Monday September 08, 1941) reported: "As for the poor Persians, their attitude was aptly summed up in a Punch cartoon of the period. It showed a Persian cat apprehensively sitting between a lion and a bear. "I will pat its head," says the bear, "and you shall stroke its tail." Pleads the cat: "But I have not been consulted!"

Today, the same game is being played with Iranian people; the players are the same actors, the same motivations. Have we not killed enough during this last 100 years? Yes, we have. - St Michael Traveler to


- The entire Iraq adventure has been a fantasy, so it is more than fitting to cap it off with a Baghdad "Disneyland". The one thing that is certain is that they will have a surfeit of local models for the props in their House of Horrors.

- It will be the Explodiest Place on Earth.

- America. . . the biggest clown show on earth. . . I can't figure out if the tears in my eyes are from laughter or crying.

- Apocalypse Wow!


- Not surprised he got fired, speaking the truth is frowned upon in the US at the moment, so much for 'freedom'


- The only argument against murder is that she wasn't done away with at the very beginning of the story. It will be interesting to see if she left any information to be dispersed upon her untimely death. - m

- If the discovery documents are so sensitive as to be non-viewable just how can proof of activity be demonstrated to those outside the star chamber?

- I knew it! I knew PR would seize on Palfrey's death to bring back the name Vince Foster. The Palfrey death seems highly suspicious. Hundreds must have wanted her dead and she seemed to have little cause to off herself. - WH ME


- I guess it comes down to what they do first. If they start by asking a question and then apply torture if they don't like the answer or non-answer, clearly it is punishment. On the other hand, if they start with torture before asking any questions, Scalia's loathsome argument might hold some weight.


"Finally, if they insist on talking about hope, I've got the Obamists beat. My optimism far exceeds theirs because I truly believe we could have done better than Barack Obama. And still can some day."

- Unfortunately, I agree. Is there something wrong with a country of 300 million+ residents that ends up with what in reality is a choice between 3 pro-war candidates.


"My thinking at the start was that the last thing you should hold anyone accountable for is remembering what their preacher said in a sermon."

- I think if I went to a church and the preacher started screaming 'God Dam America", I would remember it. it would be hard not to, unless you are Obama and your numbers start slipping in the poll. But never mind! He would no more disown Rev. "God Dam America" Wright any more than he would disown his white grandmother (even if she is a typical white person).


- While the Secret Service is charged with protecting ex-presidents, protecting them from due process and accountability under the law is a travesty.

- It is, however, wishful thinking of the most errant variety to believe that any of these people from Bush onwards are ever going to be brought to book in a court of law anywhere for their actions. These people do not simply bend the laws to accommodate their agendas--they write these laws and are the law; and we'd do extremely well not to allow ourselves to be gulled into the belief that there's some higher abstract "law" out there that they don't control. They could never have risen to the places they now occupy, and remained in them, were that not the case. No more rose-coloued fairy tales anent these people's ultimate 'accountability' please.

- I have to agree that it is unlikely that Bush, et al, will ever be held accountable for their crimes. But I do believe there is value in reminding everyone that the moral, ethical and legal course would be a trial in the US for treason, as well as trials in the Hague for Crimes Against the Peace, Crimes Against Humanity, torture, etc. Even a serious attempt might help to deter, or at least restrain, the next war mongering bastard that comes along. The only downside is that if such a trial looks possible, and McCain is not elected, there might be a declaration of martial law and the suspension of power transfer by Jan 20, 2009.


- I'll expect to see a derisive comment from some 'pwogwessive' here, any time now, grousing about how these fascist teachers are impinging upon the free expression of students in teaching them to clean up their trash, and behave with some modicum of respect toward their fellows. That's what progressivism seems pretty much to've devolved into these days.

So why did the Progressive Review run this article?


- Well, just how much could have ever been expected from a 'reading program' initiated by someone who can't read?


- Suicide by hanging, which is almost always slow strangulation lasting to 20 minutes or more, is painful and disfiguring. Ms Palfrey is likely to have known this from the hanging death of one of her girls. Toxic substances are a favorite method of suicide by women because they are nonviolent, and do not disfigure the face. Pick the right ones and they are not only painless, but anxietolytic as well. Ms Palfrey undoubtedly had the contacts to access sufficient quantities of barbiturates and opiates, as well as sufficient intelligence to learn how to use them. - Flapjack Weevilbaker


- These rabid but clueless liberals who read the New York Times and think that the Clintons ever did anything for anyone but themselves, and blind themselves to the fact that they ran the most corrupt administration in history, assume that those of us who voted for Nader would have voted for a Clinton or Clinton surrogate if only his name had not been on the ballot.

Here is why they should like Ralph. I do not think I am alone in saying that there is no way I could vote for a Clinton. If Ralph were not on the ballot that means I would vote for McCain this year against their favorite. Voting for Ralph would take my vote out of the McCain column that otherwise would be there. Therefore they should support Ralph being on the ballot, because without him there would be another vote against Clinton. - Rob


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